By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

Do program managers belong in program offices, or in IT shops?"

I was involved in a conversation today about professionalizing IT program management in government. One sound bite really caught my attention: One participant reported speaking with the program manager for a multi-hundred-million-dollar IT system who reported he was also managing seven other efforts. All too often, this core competency for government has gotten real short-shrift. Mark Forman pushed this issue when he ran IT program management from the Office of Management and Budget at the beginning of the George W. Bush administration.

And now, as a tight budgetary environment has lowered tolerance for failed IT projects, the issue might come to the forefront again. There seems to be interest in the administration in emphasizing this issue, in the context of the ongoing reviews of large IT projects in trouble.

A serious investment in developing program management as a profession would have a side benefit. The government, of course, is having trouble recruiting talented young people into its IT workforce. A program management track would likely be attractive to many young people because it would involve them with a substantive program mission, provide management training and offer an opportunity to keep working on their technical skills, not as a worker bee but as a manager.

I would love to hear suggestions from readers about how to improve and revitalize the IT program management function. Where should it be located -- in IT shops or in user shops (when the users are not the IT shop)? What kind of training do people need, and how should it be provided? What skills do these managers need? How can we up the importance of this function in the government?

Posted by Steve Kelman on Oct 07, 2010 at 12:08 PM


Featured

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

  • Comment
    Pilot Class. The author and Barbie Flowers are first row third and second from right, respectively.

    How VA is disrupting tech delivery

    A former Digital Service specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs explains efforts to transition government from a legacy "project" approach to a more user-centered "product" method.

  • Cloud
    cloud migration

    DHS cloud push comes with complications

    A pressing data center closure schedule and an ensuing scramble to move applications means that some Homeland Security components might need more than one hop to get to the cloud.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.